July 15 - 28, 2005• Vol. 26 - No. 28 - 29

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War of the Worlds—A Very Close Encounter
with a Totally Different Kind of E.T.

by The Blonde and The Maven
Film Columnists



H.G. Wells published his novel The War of the Worlds in 1898. Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre Troupe performed it live on the radio in 1938. Gene Barry starred in the George Pal-produced and Byron Haskin-directed 1953 version which garnered three Oscar nominations and won one for special effects.
Now, Steven Spielberg directed his adaptation of the story in 2005. Tom Cruise (Collateral and Minority Report) stars as Ray Ferrier, a divorced dock worker and less than perfect father. He's going to have his kids for the weekend so that his remarried ex-wife Mary Ann, played by Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings and What Lies Beneath) and her husband can take a weekend off and visit her parents (who are played by Gene Barry and Ann Sheridan from the original 1953 version). His son Robbie, portrayed by Justin Chatwin (Super Babies and Taking Lives) is a sullen teenager with some serious resentment towards his dad. (TYPICAL TEENAGER). Ray's young daughter Rachel, played by Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire and Hide and Seek) is more tolerant and understanding of her dad's flaws.
Soon after the kids arrive, a freak lightening storm has everyone hiding under the table. When things quiet down, Ray goes to the inner section a few blocks away where the lightening seemed to strike many times. What ensues there so unwinds Ray's sense of security that he is barely coherent when he tells his kids they're leaving. The Ferrier family is now on a flight through chaos for their very survival.
Much of the film focuses on the obliteration of social control, individually and globally. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (The Terminal, Minority Report, and husband of actress Holly Hunter) takes you into the action. In one scene, the Ferrier family is speeding away in the only working car, and the camera pivots around the car, moves close for dialogue, then pulls back for a longer view, and moves back for more dialogue. The whole scene was dazzling! The special effects come from the studios ILM, and the editing is superb, done by Michael Kahn (Artificial Intelligence and Minority Report). The Morgan Freeman opening and ending narration is direct from the H.G, Wells novel.
This film’s “close encounters” are sometimes a little too close for comfort and NO ONE is calling home! Go see if you can sink your jaws into this Spielberg film!

The Blonde: War of the Worlds was like the original War of the Worlds meets Independence Day and Armageddon meets The Day After Tomorrow meets A Close Encounter and VERY MEAN E.T.s meet The Thing! What a “super-dee-duper” movie! That Spielberg is such a BOOB-A-LA!

The Maven: AH, BLONDE, I think you mean bubala!

The Blonde: NO! I know exactly what I mean! He is a BOOB-A-LA ! I SIMPLY ADORE HIM! I have a question, however. Why do they call it special effects? The effects are NOT always SO special in every movie. Now, in this film, they were MORE than special. So that makes me feel limited to just special effects, when they are actually extraordinary effects. Oh, HOLLYWOOD! Anyway, movie fans, this was an exciting movie experience, effects and all!

The Maven: Needless to say, as a science fiction reader and moviegoer, I wasn't about to miss this one. Spielberg has a way of making indescribable nightmares both realistic and compelling. Here you have an ordinary guy and his children coping with a full-scale alien invasion. The story alone is provocative in that the things we consider OUR security, i.e. the government and the armed forces, were totally ineffective. Independence Day started out that way, but the Air Force and the President helped to save the day. Here, society falls apart. It's every man for himself!

The Blonde: Welcome to BOCA!

The Maven: With the specter of terrorism and nuclear weapons, we live in perilous times. All the security protocols in the world mean nothing against an apocalyptic invasion from a scientifically superior life form. Thank God for germs, is all I can say.

The Blonde: Too bad the aliens didn't know about Air-Borne (the multi-herbal pill you throw in water that fights off those germs). Hey Mav, do you think that there are aliens on other planets? Personally, I believe there are aliens living on this planet. In fact, I think I married a few! Anyway, before seeing this film, I heard other critics state that Tom's performance was weak. I say, “Ooh contraire!” I thought he had more range and depth than ever before. I never quite totally believed him in any of his roles before, but I did in this one! Hello! Spielberg wouldn't let any of his actors EVER get away with a less than stellar performance.

The Maven: Cruise's Ray stayed true to form through the whole film. He's an irresponsible adult who lives day to day. Throughout the movie, he's just trying to keep his children and himself alive. He could care less about killing aliens, a fact that irks his son. Ray isn't a warrior, but when his daughter is in harm’s way, he nevertheless puts himself in danger hoping to rescue her. In the end, he is exhausted from just surviving.

The Blonde: I know how he feels!

The Maven: He's not a hero. He doesn't find a way to destroy the aliens. All that's changed is that HE was responsible for keeping his daughter alive.
The Blonde: WHAT A GUY! I wonder if Steven felt as much affection toward Dakota as he felt toward Drew Barrymore filming E.T.? They both are adorable, bright, and precocious. By the way, you never answered my alien question!

The Maven: I am constantly amazed at the depth of emotions Dakota Fanning can emote. At her age, she is equal to any adult actress out there today. She has worked with Denzel, De Niro, Penn, and now Cruise. What can we expect from her teenage years?

The Blonde: She is brilliant and blessed with a rare talent to be natural and honest on screen. Not to mention how lucky she is to have worked with the best actors of our day! Now, what about my alien question?

The Maven: If there are aliens, I am very upset that they haven't contacted me! I would love to have them over for tea and some experiments.

The Blonde: What kind of tea are you serving? Moving right along, for a science-fiction film, this one was intensely vivid and realistic. You truly feel as if you are inside the movie screen. The film actually pulls you out from your theater seat and throws you into the film itself like a Disney ride. I also must say that War of the Worlds was quite scary at times. I'm kind of glad that I didn't take my child to see it. At least in a scary Chuckie film, you know it could never happen. This film's topic has some potential for truth!

The Maven: What I found disturbing was the similarities to 9-11!

The Blonde: So where was Katie Holmes in this film with all the media hype?

The Maven: In Tom's trailer watching him jump up and down on the couch.

The Blonde: What a waist of a couch. If I were with Tom, I would be doing more than just jumping on his couch. But hey, that's just me!  

The Maven: This is a summer blockbuster movie that shouldn't be missed. Some scenes are a little gruesome but, overall, much of the action is original and jaw-dropping.

The Blonde: Now that is the gruesome, original and jaw-dropping reaction you would get if you saw me on Tom’s couch!

The Maven: Prepare to be on the edge of your seat five minutes into the film! I rate this film an A for awesome effects and a fabulous roller coaster ride of destruction, terror, and all out chaos.

The Blonde: Prepare to be on the edge of your couch for the whole ride! I rate War of the Worlds a B+. I would have given it an A… but I didn't like the cheesy ending (I think it made my cholesterol go up a bit)! For your snacks… popcorn is a MUST and go ahead and have some Mars Bars candy to go with the theme! And don't forget to PHONE HOME!

P.S.: A perk for us Floridians, if we don't use our hurricane supplies on the hurricanes, we will at least be prepared for any alien attacks! Sorry, generators are not included!
1. Tom Cruise stars as Ray Ferrier, a man who would do anything to protect his family during a catastrophic alien attack, in War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg
Photo by Andrew Cooper


Time for French Films...Encore!
by Marguerite Gil
Arts and Entertainment Writer

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) is presently screening the Annual PERRIER French Film Festival, from July 22 through August 7, 2005. The festival takes place at the Cinema Paradiso, which is in my humble opinion, is possibly the most charming and perfect place to house any film endeavors in South Florida. Featured this year, Lucas Belvaux’s popular trilogy which includes An Amazing Couple (Un Couple Epatant), which will be the Opening Night Film. Also on the roster are On The Run, the adventures of a cop and a crook, After The Life (Apres La Vie), The Dinner Game (Le Diner Des Cons) a hilarious comedy about dumb people and food, and several classics such as Belle du Jour and The 400 Blows (Les 400 Coups).
One of my favorites was The Closet, by Francis Veber, which is a smart, full of surprises, wonderfully produced and directed film that will put smiles on all movie lovers.
Summertime is perfect for sitting in a cool movie house and enjoying celluloid specials at their best. 
For more information and a complete schedule, visit www.cinemaparadiso.org or call 954-535-FILM for ticked prices and film schedule.
Send your arts and entertainment arts events information for consideration to megs@gate.net.

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